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7 Tips to Stay Safe on Frozen Lakes

In the land of 10,000 lakes, winter’s frozen playground is why many of us choose to live here year-round. Staying safe on frozen lakes, streams, and ponds requires you to take extra precautions. Having sufficient insurance coverage against the unforeseen is crucial when enjoying some winter fun.

Call Lake Region Insurance Agency today for a free insurance review and quote. Our friendly agents help you fill the gaps in your coverage so that you can have peace of mind this winter.

Caution: Thin Ice!

Hockey, ice skating, and ice fishing are just a few of the cherished pastimes during a Northern winter. But Minnesota kids grow up knowing they aren’t allowed to touch the lake ice until someone measures the ice with an appropriate tool.

Sadly, vehicles, snowmobiles, and people go through the ice every year. Children and males of all ages are the most likely to fall through the ice and into a frigid lake.

It’s crucial to remember that ice is NEVER completely safe. Recreational activities on frozen lakes always carry some risk. Those enjoying the wintry outdoors can help keep themselves safe with these seven tips.

1. Know the Ice Thickness

Before considering going on the ice, you need to know how thick it is. Augers, tape measures, and ice chisels all work to gauge the thickness. For ultimate safety, check the ice measurements every 150 feet. 

Beware of thin ice on frozen lakes.Here’s a helpful guide to general safety parameters for ice thickness, with the understanding that these are not guarantees that the ice will hold. The following measurements apply to new, clear ice: 

  • Under 4” – The ice is NOT SAFE.
  • 4″ – Activities on foot may be safe, such as ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
  • 5″ to 7” – ATV and snowmobile use is likely safe.
  • 8” to 12″ – The ice can probably safely support a car, ice house, or group game.
  • 12” to 15″ – The ice should now support a medium truck.

It’s essential to remember that these guidelines are for clear ice. Experts recommend doubling the thickness requirements before venturing onto a frozen lake when dealing with white or snow ice.

2. Stay Safe on Frozen Lakes by Sticking with Daylight

Whenever possible, avoid any activity on ice in the dark. A significant part of staying safe on frozen lakes is being able to see how the ice looks. 

In particular, you need to be able to examine the color of the ice. Gray or mottled-colored ice is unsafe. White ice requires double the thickness as blue to be safe. 

It’s also crucial to be able to see the bubblers that protect lake docks. The ice around bubblers is not strong enough to support you.

3. Use the Buddy System

Ice skating on frozen lake

When it comes to winter safety, you learned much of what you need to know in kindergarten: always stick with a friend. Whether you are snowmobiling, playing hockey, or ice fishing, don’t go alone.

Having another person with you when you are on the ice keeps you safer. And it helps ensure someone can get help if there is an accident. If someone falls through the ice, it’s essential that no one try to go in after them to help. Instead, throw a rope or lifesaving device and call for professional rescue help.

4. Car Safety on the Ice

If you determine that the ice is thick enough to support your car or truck, it doesn’t mean you can park and forget about it. The ice can start sinking when cars and trucks are sitting there. Keep vehicles at least 50 feet part and move them every two hours. 

Many experts also suggest cutting a hole near the vehicle. If water starts to come over the top of the hole, then the ice is sinking.

5. Know What to Do If You Fall Through the Ice

When someone falls into frigid winter lakes, time is critical. You have a few minutes before hypothermia takes hold and creates a dangerous situation. The first task is to keep your head above water.

Kick your legs until you can grab onto the ice and pull yourself to a horizontal position. After you get out of the water, roll to thicker ice, and then seek medical treatment immediately. 

Be safe when lakes freeze.

Again, if you’re trying to get someone else out of the water, do not go in after them. Everyone available can lay down on the ice and create a human rescue chain with the lightest person closest to the hole. 

Each person should outstretch their legs and arms to distribute their weight. Reach out something the person can grab to pull them out of the frigid water, such as a:

  • Tree Branch
  • Ski Pole
  • Snowshoe
  • Rope
  • Jacket

6. Consider Your Pet

Although pets are often fairly lightweight, they are not automatically safe. Ice in the spring and fall is particularly unpredictable, so take extra precautions during those months. 

If your pet falls in, get rescue help immediately. Your instinct will be to go after your pet, but if the ice can’t hold them, it can’t hold you. Call for help right away.

7. Wear a Life Jacket

Life jackets are not only for summer lake excursions. Personal flotation devices are critical for water safety, no matter the season. Wearing something that helps you float can make the difference in surviving or not for anyone who falls through the ice. 

And don’t forget a life vest for your pooch, too. Give them the best chance by fitting them with a life jacket.

Get the Right Coverage

Going through a winter hoping you have adequate insurance isn’t the wisest choice. And it could leave you unprotected. 

Instead, reach out to the independent agents at Lake Region Insurance Agency for a comprehensive policy review. They will look at all of your plans to see if any uncovered areas leave you at risk. 

With offices in Wilmar, New London, and Cokato, MN, we are available to help all of our Greater Minnesota neighbors. 

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Will a Car Accident Raise My Insurance Rates?

If you’ve been in a fender bender or other collision, you may wonder, “Does a car accident raise my insurance rates?” While it’s possible that a serious accident could increase your costs, not every incident will do so.

Lake Region Insurance Agency is ready to help you secure the best insurance policies at prices that fit your budget. 

Our independent agents in New London, Cokato, and Wilmar, MN, offer high-end service and small-town values. Contact us today to enjoy a free policy review, and we’ll make sure to find the coverage that’s right for you.

How Do Companies Determine Auto Premiums?

As with any coverage, car insurance rates revolve around risk. The more risk an insurance company takes on, the higher the premiums rise. 

Several factors go into setting your auto insurance rates. Some are under your control, and others are not. The top rate influencers include:

  • Value of Your Car The age, condition, make, and model of your car impact its value. And the value helps determine the cost to insure the vehicle. Something with a higher value to replace or repair will carry a higher premium.
  • Policy Type – Every state requires vehicle owners to carry a liability policy. It helps to protect you if there is a car accident where you are at fault. If you add comprehensive coverage, you’ll pay a higher rate. This insurance covers your repairs, property damage, and medical expenses you incur, regardless of who was at fault. It also kicks in if someone steals your car or if it sustains damage due to fire, vandalism, or natural disasters. If you owe on a car loan, your lender will require you to carry comprehensive insurance.

Your type of policy helps determine your premium.

  • Deductible – The deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket before the insurance carrier pays your claim. Lower deductibles lead to higher premiums and vice versa.
  • Location – If you’re insuring a car in a place with high crime rates, hazardous roads, or icy weather, you may have to pay higher premiums. The same is true of densely-populated areas.
  • Driving record – If you’ve had previous accidents or moving violations, you probably will pay higher premiums than someone with a squeaky clean driving record. Speeding tickets can impact your insurance rates if you’ve gotten several within three years.
  • Age A driver’s age is one of the most significant factors in determining auto insurance rates. Young drivers require the highest premiums of any age group. People ages 16 to 25 can pay up to four times as much for insurance than their more mature counterparts.
  • Gender Teenage boys and young men are, statistically, riskier drivers. Because of this fact, insurance companies mitigate their risks by charging these drivers significantly higher premiums. Once a man turns 25, his premiums will drop if he has kept a clean driving record.

With so many factors in the mix, it’s no wonder there is confusion about how much an accident can impact your costs.

Do Car Accidents Raise My Insurance Rates? 

Car accidents don't always make your rates go up.

Not all car accidents are created equal. Obviously, a bumper tap in a parking lot does less costly damage than a head-on collision.

If you bump another car from behind, or you lightly scratch an adjacent vehicle in the parking lot, take a deep breath. You may be in the clear for insurance rate hikes if your accident claim is minor. 

When you know that you’ve damaged another car, make every effort to contact the other driver. You’ll need to exchange insurance information and get repair estimates. If the repair costs come in below your deductible amount, it might make sense to pay for the repairs out-of-pocket rather than filing a claim.

In more severe collisions, the insurance companies will view the police report and any related evidence, like videos, photos, or witness statements. They’ll determine fault, which could include more than one driver, and look at all the costs incurred because of the accident.

The insurance carrier will decide whether your rates will increase after processing your claim.

Your Driving Record Matters

If you are filing your first-ever claim, the carrier may not give you a higher premium. Remember, they set these based on risk. 

If you have a stellar driving record otherwise, a first claim may not impact your rates. Again, the severity of the accident will also be a factor. Any accident claims that you file stay on your record for three years, even if you were not at fault.

Reduce the likelihood of another costly incident by remembering to:

  • Observe the Speed Limit
  • Drive Defensively
  • Always Wear Your Seatbelt
  • Never Drive Distracted

Distracted driving is treacherous.

Accident Forgiveness and No-Fault Insurance

Some insurance providers offer accident forgiveness or no-fault insurance. A no-fault policy covers medical expenses incurred by either party, no matter who is at fault. Your premiums may still increase after an accident, depending on the size and scope of the claim.

You also might be eligible for an accident forgiveness policy for your vehicle. You’ll likely pay a higher premium or extra fee for this coverage. But your rates won’t elevate if you file an accident claim, no matter who’s at fault.

It’s smart to look into all your policy options when insuring your car. If you’ve had a prior accident, you may save money in the long run by purchasing an accident forgiveness policy.

Let’s Save You Some Money

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we know that the worst can happen no matter how careful or cautious you are. Trust our independent agents to help you shop the market for the best rates possible. We serve our customers, not the insurance companies.

Our clients are also our neighbors, so we serve Greater Minnesota with pride and care. We’ve been a trusted insurance partner for decades, and our values guide all of our interactions with clients.

Call or stop in for a free coverage review and a quote for the policies that meet your needs. Our team is eager to help.

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Valuable Items Insurance Protects Your Heirlooms

When you buy a house, securing a homeowners policy is one of the first requirements. This policy covers a lot of scenarios and belongings, but it does not cover everything. Homeowners are usually surprised to learn that they may need valuable items insurance for adequate protection.

Many high-end belongings do not fall under the coverage of a typical homeowners policy. If you are concerned that your insurance plan might not be adequate, reach out to the experts at Lake Region Insurance Agency

We work to help you protect your car, home, business, and more. Stop in and see us at one of our Greater Minnesota offices for a free insurance review and quote. We will go over your needs to find a plan that fits.

What Is Valuable Items Insurance?

Having a homeowners insurance policy is the first step toward protecting your belongings. But it does not guarantee that you would receive full replacement value for all the items in your home. 

Most plans will only insure individual objects for up to $1500 each. That certainly is not enough to replace expensive items. 

Some insurers may not even include those items in the policy for your home at all. So you would have protection for almost everything in your home except for the most valuable belongings. In this situation, your insurance would not work for you the way you hope it will.

Valuable items insurance, however, is precisely for this purpose. It provides a different level of protection for personal belongings that have a high financial value. Items that fit in this category can include: 

  • Jewelry
  • Musical Instruments 
  • Rare Books
  • Firearms 
  • Fine Art
  • Antique Furniture
  • China and Silverware
  • Furs
  • Coins and Stamps
  • Family Heirlooms

Policies that cover these possessions will protect you from the financial frustration and disappointment that can come with a significant loss. 

Valuable items insurance can protect musical instruments.

How Do I Determine Which Items Qualify as Valuable?

Figuring out which of your belongings require valuable items insurance can feel overwhelming at first. It can be particularly tricky because, unlike everyday things, their value is likely to go up over time, rather than down. 

For example, your great-grandparents’ wedding rings may have cost $100 when they were new. But they are most certainly worth much more than that now. You need to be sure your policy covers its current worth, not merely the purchase price.

Expert Appraisals

The most straightforward way to determine an item’s value and confirm its insurability is to have an expert appraisal. An appraisal sets a valuation of the personal property for insurance, legal, tax, and estate planning purposes.

It’s crucial that you choose an appraiser with expertise in your items. Depending on the variety and age of your belongings, you may need several different experts. For example, if you have fine art and old watches, you probably need two separate appraisers.

One important thing to note is that there are no federal or state licenses for appraisers. If someone tells you they are licensed, be wary. Be sure to choose someone who works in compliance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). In addition, several groups offer certifications for appraisers.

Valuable coin collections need special insurance coverage.

Proof of Purchase

An original receipt or invoice helps confirm ownership and value if a high-end item is lost, stolen, or destroyed. This evidence is particularly helpful for newer possessions that probably haven’t gone up in value yet. Insurance agencies will reference the proof of purchase when paying a claim.

For very old heirlooms, an original receipt and any subsequent bills of sale help the appraiser determine an accurate value. People are often surprised by how often their ancestors kept every single receipt. It was a common practice in previous generations, so you may find an original tucked away somewhere. 

How to Document Your Items

It’s essential to create an inventory of all personal belongings in your home, whether they qualify for valuable items insurance or not. The most efficient way to create this list is to go room by room, following these steps:

  1. Take video, photos, or both of all personal belongings in the room. Open closets and cupboards and get images of those items, too. For highly valuable pieces, get several photos from different angles. These may be necessary in cases of theft to prove an object’s authenticity.
  2. Make an itemized list of each room’s contents in a notebook or a computer document. For any appraised items, include a copy of the professional appraiser’s report.
  3. Keep a copy of the images, videos, and list in your home. But also put copies in a safe deposit box or other secure location outside of your home. 
  4. Provide a copy to your insurance agent, if requested.

Time-stamped photos and videos are vital in protecting all parties involved. The insurer prevents fraudulent claims, and the client can receive the proper payout. 

Even for standard homeowners coverage, this documentation is excellent any time you need to make a claim. Being able to access it will save you time and aggravation in the event of a theft or loss so that you can get replacements as quickly as possible.

We Have Your Back

There really is an insurance policy for every aspect of your life. Investing in valuable items insurance protects belongings that you cherish and that carry a high worth. It is just as important as any other insurance policy you choose to buy. 

Lake Region Insurance Agency has been serving our Minnesota neighbors since 1970, and it is an honor to provide the peace of mind you deserve. With policies to cover your home, car, business, health, and more, we make sure you have sufficient coverage for your needs.

Our agents work independently of any particular company. This autonomy means that we can search for the right policies for your situation without being forced to use a specific provider. 

We welcome you to bring us any questions you have about your insurance coverage. Stop into one of our locations in New London, Willmar, or Cokato, MN, to learn more.

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4 Reasons You Need an Annual Insurance Review

When you think about insurance, it’s unlikely you consider an annual insurance review. Most people choose a policy, set the payments on auto-withdrawal, and then don’t think of it again. But a yearly checkup is quite important for your financial security. 

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, our independent insurance agents are here to serve you. From choosing a plan to fine-tuning your needs each year, our team has you covered. Call today to schedule a free annual review of your policies. 

If you’ve never thought about a yearly check-in with your insurance agent, here are four reasons to schedule it now.

1. Peace of Mind

Worrying and wondering about your coverage isn’t how you want to spend your time. And yet, if you have children, a home, a business, or any valuable assets, you probably worry from time to time. With an annual insurance review, you can go to sleep at night, knowing that you have sufficient protection in place. 

Not only that, but you also will have planned for unexpected trouble in advance. A yearly review can ensure that you have someone ready to work on your behalf if a problem strikes. Trying to put pieces into place once an issue arises or a disaster hits doesn’t serve you. Make sure you have the coverage you require now.

2. Life Changes 

Having a child is a good reason to check your insurance coverage.

So much can happen in a year. You may have had a child or bought a house. Maybe you paid off your vehicles or purchased a business. All of these are reasons to sit down and comb through your insurance policies. 

For example, let’s say you get a better-paying job and move into a bigger home with a higher value and mortgage. And imagine that a new neighbor comes to visit and breaks an ankle when they misstep off your front porch. 

You could face a personal liability claim. You need to look at your insurance policies to make sure they will help you cover and maintain your lifestyle.

Some common reasons you might want to add or change your policies include:

  • Marriage or Divorce
  • Buying or Selling Your House
  • Buying or Selling a Rental Property
  • Buying, Starting, or Selling a Business
  • Having or Adopting a Child
  • Buying, Selling, or Paying off Your Car
  • Making a Large Purchase:
    • Boat
    • Snowmobile
    • Valuable Jewelry
    • Fine Art
    • Second Home

3. Save Money 

Policy prices change depending on the coverage they provide. If you skip an annual insurance review, you could be leaving money on the table. 

For example, if you no longer have a car loan, you may want to adjust the coverage to save money. If you need to add new policies for your situation, you might be eligible for multi-policy discounts. These options can offer excellent premium reductions.

Save money with an annual insurance review.

Saving money on premiums isn’t the only benefit to your yearly review. An annual check-in also looks at your deductibles and coverage limits in each policy. 

You may discover that you have a liability limit that won’t come close to replacing your personal property after a disaster. Or you could find that you have policies with really high deductibles that would be hard to meet. Your agent will examine these different pieces to find the plan that makes the most financial sense for your situation.

4. Fill the Coverage Gaps

Just as an annual physical helps you ward off many medical problems, a yearly policy review helps avoid insurance problems.

Many people mistakenly think that their homeowners policy covers much more than it does. They assume that any trouble that comes up with their house will fall under this plan. Unfortunately, they can be in for a terrible surprise if something happens outside of this coverage.

For example, assets and liabilities related to a home-based business may not fall under the protection of a homeowners plan. But many entrepreneurs don’t realize that.

Creating the habit of reviewing your insurance helps your agent suggest the best policies for you. With regular check-ins, they can advise you when it is a good time to add, combine, or remove coverage.

Preparing for an Annual Insurance Review

Insurance review each year

Even if you have nothing prepared, it’s still worth scheduling time for a yearly insurance checkup. Your agent will walk you through your needs and current coverage to help determine if any gaps exist.

But if you are someone who doesn’t mind a little homework, here are some tips to consider as you get ready for your review:

  • Gather information on your assets. Bring a list of your vehicles’ makes, models, and years. Put together an inventory of the high-value items you own, such as jewelry or a boat. Have a general idea of your home’s worth and remaining mortgage. 
  • Be comfortable asking questions. The insurance industry has a lot of specialized jargon that can be confusing. Never hesitate to ask what something means or how it will serve you. And you’re free to ask a question as many times as needed to feel confident in the answer.
  • Determine a general idea of your monthly budget for premiums. This information can help your agent find policies that align with what you are comfortable spending.
  • Be ready to discuss any significant life changes that have happened or that you anticipate happening in the next year.

Schedule a Review Today

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we have been serving our Greater Minnesota neighbors for 50 years. With offices in Willmar, New London, and Cokato, MN, we offer convenient locations for you to stop by for a review. 

Our independent agents do not have ties to any particular insurance company or product. We search through all available options to find the one that meets your unique needs. Working with your situation and budget in mind, we help you find sufficient coverage.

We offer free reviews and quotes, so don’t hesitate to reach out and get connected. We can’t wait to help you have the peace of mind that your insurance will give you.